The Dino-Initiative Tour — named for Motion City Soundtrack’s major-label debut, My Dinosaur Life, on Columbia Records — arrived in New York City on a frigid Wednesday night, taking to The Fillmore at Irving Plaza. Packed with a variety of bands all loosely fitting into the punk-pop genre, the evening promised to be a sing-a-long heavy event.
The Swellers kicked off the impressive four-band bill at 6:30 with Ups and Downsizing leadoff cut “2009”, sticking primarily to that album for their half hour set. The Michigan four-piece harmonized well and executed with precision but ultimately failed to shine with any truly excellent moments. A solid opening band, The Swellers sounded good but not great. “Skoots” and “Bottles” from 2007’s My Everest were welcomed additions to the set; the band finished with a strong performance of “Do You Feel Better?”. The full set:
Welcome Back Riders
Watch it Go
Do You Feel Better Yet?
Seattle’s This Providence followed with a bland and uninteresting performance. With few exceptions, frontman Dan Young was devoid of energy and bored most of the crowd for the band’s thirty minutes. Taking cues from and playing in the the musical style of Panic at the Disco, The Academy Is…, and Gatsbys American Dream, This Providence never reached any of the aforementioned band’s creativity or charisma. With tighter hooks and a more powerful live show the band might be ready to join their peers, but as it stands This Providence simply falls short of many similar bands who just do it so much better. Seven of the band’s eight cuts came from their latest effort, Who Are You Now?. The full half-hour set:
That Girl’s a Trick
My Beautiful Rescue
Playing the Villain
Keeping on Without You
This is the Real Thing
A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
At 8PM Set Your Goals took the stage, playing a shortened version of their headliner set from the day before — please see that link for a full bootleg and lengthy commentary on the band’s setlist. Powerhouses “Gaia Bleeds (Make Way for Man)” and “Goonies Never Die” kicked things off, setting the pace for the next thirty minutes. Vinnie Caruana joined the band to perform his vocal part on “This Will Be the Death of Us”, a nice surprise that spiced up the band’s already-exciting performance. “To Be Continued…” and “Mutiny”, from the band’s debut full length, were the final two songs, the latter receiving the warmest response of the fairly short nine-song set:
Gaia Bleeds (Make Way for Man)
Goonies Never Say Die
This Will be the Death of Us
To Be Continued…
Motion City Soundtrack walked on stage at 9PM to the ’80s pop hit, “Walk the Dinosaur”. Beginning with My Dinosaur Life‘s track one,”Worker Bee”, frontman Justin Pierre sang: “It’s been a good year, a good new beginning. I’m through with the old school, so let’s commence the winning. I’ve been a good little worker bee: I deserve a gold star.” If quirky lyrics like that don’t go over for you, then abandon ship now: Motion City Soundtrack only gets stranger.
Bringing things back to 2002, I am the Movie‘s “The Future Freaks Me Out” went second, with the entire crowd singinging the song’s opening moments about Betty and her love for modern rock. Another cut from that album, “My Favorite Accident”, kept the crowd dancing and singing along to every word. “Broken Heart”, from 2007’s Even if it Kills Me, was warmly received, and the brand new “Delirium” sounded great. Some strange sound problems hindered “This is for Real”, but the band bounced back strong with a crowd-rousing performance of “When You’re Around”.
Pierre sung a brief happy birthday song to the tune of “Worker Bee” before Motion City Soundtrack laid down two excellent performances of My Dinosaur Life standouts “Pulp Fiction” and “Motherfucker”, the latter of which is clearly inspired by American Teen‘s Jake Tusing, right down to the the Legend of Zelda references. “Even if it Kills Me” was a nice surprise to the setlist, as was the much older “Perfect Teeth”. For “Her Words Destroyed My Planet”, Motion City Soundtrack had previously distributed kazoos to everyone in attendance and encouraged them to buzz along to the song’s shrieking synthesizer riff.
After finishing the set with “LG Fuad” — and the entire crowding singing along, “let’s get fucked up and die” — the band walked off stage and the lights went dark. In a completely unexpected twist, Motion City Soundtrack didn’t return to the stage — Boston’s Williams Octet walked out in front of the Irving Plaza crowd to perform a remarkable a cappella version of “Fell in Love Without You”. Pierre joined the octet for the song’s final moments before rejoining Motion City Soundtrack for their new single “Disappear”. “Everything is Alright”, perhaps the band’s signature song, received stellar treatment and appropriately closed the evening. The full set:
The Future Freaks Me Out
My Favorite Accident
This is for Real
When You’re Around
A Lifeless Ordinary (Need A Little Help)
Even if it Kills Me
Her Words Destroyed My Planet
Fell in Love Without You
Everything is Alright
Motion City Soundtrack’s eighteen-song set — nineteen, if you include the a cappella rendition of “Fell in Love Without You” — was an absolute treat and showcased why the Minnesota five-piece is known for one of the genre’s best live shows. Song selection across the band’s four albums was impeccable, with bonus points (and a gold star) for playing more than half of their outstanding new album. A great performance by Set Your Goals and solid openers The Swellers only added to excellent evening. Motion City Soundtrack’s next performance in the area is at this year’s Bamboozle in East Rutherford — don’t miss out.
All photographs by the extremely talented India Allegra.